Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mmmmm…steak. Mmmm…pancakes

For whatever reason, you know you aren’t interested in a sit-down meal. The question now is whether you want food stations or a buffet. What exactly is the difference between the two? What are their drawbacks and benefits?

Food stations usually take the form of individual tables scattered throughout a room each focusing on a specific type or ethnicity of food. The food on each table can differ completely from one another: the table to the left can contain a pancake station and the one to left a prime rib roast. Each table is manned by at least one attendant who sometimes creates the food right before a guest’s eyes.

A buffet consists of one long table of a single meal. Sometimes, options are given for each component of a meal – protein, starch and vegetable. Guests may serve themselves or attendants may serve portions of the meal.

Who doesn't love potatoes?
Now you know the difference between the two options, let’s discuss their benefits and drawbacks.

Control: oftentimes, a buffet gives a couple more control over how much food is served to guests. (Note that both options allow a couple to choose the types of food served). This is particularly true when an attendant serves guests and oversees the size of a portion. However – and here’s the catch – buffets often cost more than a traditional, sit-down meal. Why? Because there’s not telling the specific amount of food that will be consumed at the event. In a plated meal, the vendor knows exactly how many chicken breasts, potatoes and carrots that are needed. With a buffet, however, more food must be provided because a guest may choose to forgo one option (carrots) and double another (potatoes).

Variety: when it comes to the types of food served stations allow for more variety. In fact, having food stations pretty much requires having multiple different types of food. It’s irrelevant whether these foods are a couple’s favorites or just things that are neat to eat, the fact is that they’re all different. Buffets, on the other hand, are usually more cohesive and are designed to create a full, three-course meal. A buffet may offer guests choices, but usually no more than two (chicken or fish, for example).

Décor: although a table can be decorated any way a couple would like, simply because there are more of them food stations allow for more décor options. Even though many times the food displays on these tables themselves are adequate, it’s not unusual for a couple to decorate a fajita station with tiny sombreros or a sushi table with origami.

It’s possible to combine a buffet food stations in the cocktail hour and a buffet at dinner. Note, however, that we do not recommend having a buffet during the cocktail hour because it’s pretty impossible to create a cohesive appetizer buffet table and somewhat of a waste of money to man the buffet for the hour-long cocktail portion of the evening. It’s also perfectly acceptable to have food stations in both the cocktail hour and dinner.

We also recommend against having both a plated dinner and food stations during the meal. Doing so turns out to be a lot of food, and many times the food at the stations is wasted. An entirely viable option is to have a plated dinner and to open food stations – usually for desserts or late night snacks – at the end of the reception.

Yum! Now I’m off to lunch. Happy eating!